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Eleven reasons why play therapy courses accredited by Play Therapy International (PTI) in Ireland and run by APAC are so successful and are the best value.

Superior Content


The programme is the most comprehensive play therapy training course available anywhere. Its theoretical framework is integrative holistic. It is based on non-directive principles but integrates directive working where appropriate. You will be working with both the conscious and unconscious processes of the child.

The programme has not been designed on the basis of one or two trainers’ opinions. It is built around the competencies required to be a safe and effective practitioner, as specified by an international panel of experienced practitioners and subsequently validated by research. They are updated regularly, recently for example, to include a knowledge of neuroscience research and its application to play therapy.

The ‘Tool-Kit TM method that is taught will enable you to work with all dimensions of the holistic child: physical, communication, understanding, social relations, emotional, moral/spiritual, creativity and caring for self. It also integrates psychological theory with neuroscience research.

Your impact on the children is more likely to have a lasting benefit, rather than a purely short term effect, which usually results from ad hoc training.

You will become highly skilled able to cope with a wide range of children’s emotional, behaviour and mental health difficulties.

You will learn more play therapy modalities and use of different creative arts media than on any other course.

The programme is also the most comprehensive, in the world, in terms of the techniques that are taught at Certificate and Diploma levels. The ‘Tool-Kit TM’ includes: art & drawing, clay, creative visualisation, dramatic role play, masks, movement, music, puppets, sand tray, therapeutic story-telling

One of the most important principles of non-directive play therapy is that it is child led with the therapist following and communicating using the child’s chosen medium. You will be able to offer the children a wide range of creative and play activities. It is extremely unlikely that you will be ‘stumped’, with the wide range of media that you will learn and have available.

Balanced content

The course contains the optimum balance of theoretical, practical and experiential work that is needed for safe and effective practice. There is as little theory as possible but as much as necessary.

You should be able to feel fully confident about tackling any issue, problem or action in the play-room that you are likely to encounter. And you can reflect using your theoretical knowledge, after the sessions.

Most potential course members wish to become practitioners first and theorist secondly. The course enables this right from the beginning by providing the skills and techniques without over burdening participants with theory.

Employers are interested in what applicants can do in terms of helping the children – the competencies, skills and experience – rather than what theoretical knowledge they possess…

Coherent courses

The PTI/APAC training programme are fully coherent courses – they are not a series of disjointed ad hoc events. Each course is coherent within itself and within the overall programme. The Certificate course enables participants to work with individual children who have problems of slight, mild and moderate severity. The Diploma enables participants to work with children who have severe problems and also with groups of children. There is a natural progression from the first module, which provides sufficient skills to start working therapeutically with children.

The programme provides all the skills that you need to work successfully. You will not need any other course. You can get off to a fast start. You will be able to start working therapeutically with children as soon as you have successfully completed the first module.

A consistent course

The PTI/APAC programme is consistent across the world. The same course content, faculty, learning and assessment methods are used in every location.

Employers will know that wherever an applicant has completed PTI training there is a consistent standard.

This provides every participant with flexibility in the choice of location of the training. Someone who has completed the Certificate in Ireland could complete the Diploma in France or the UK, knowing that all other participants will have received the same training at the Certificate level.

Addresses the key aspects of safe and effective practice

One of the most distinctive features of the programme is the high proportion of experiential work. These exercises go deeper into process than scenario based role playing. You will understand the processes of the children by undertaking the same experiences yourself – this is essential for safe and effective practice.

Unlike some other courses, personal therapy is not required, unless a participant finds difficulties in coping with their issues or being unable to practise safely with the children.

Although it is a training course, not a therapy group, all participants will undergo considerable personal development due to the exercises and the support provided by the tutors, most of whom are experienced psychotherapists or counsellors.

You will be able to build effective therapeutic relationships because you will be equipped with an understanding of how and why the children feel during therapy sessions.

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The Most Effective Learning Methods

The PTI/APAC programmes employ a variety learning methods: presentations; seminars; tutorials; practical exercises; experiential exercises and above all supervised practice.

We believe that participants should be able to put into practice, which is closely monitored, what they have learnt. In this way they will soon realise what else they need to know. Problems encountered in practice may be discussed with both the teaching staff and peers.

  • You’ll learn more quickly
  • You’ll be putting what you learn into practice immediately
  • You’ll be able to learn safely from your initial mistakes
  • By the end of the course – you’ll already have good clinical experience, not just about to start

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Validation Through Research

The APAC play therapy training programme is the only one worldwide, validated by continuous practice based research. The clinical outcomes of course participants’ work are carefully measured. At present the results of the research, based on over 700 children, show that 70% of the children who have received play therapy from APAC trained students show a positive change.

  • This should give you confidence that your training will enable you to obtain very good outcomes from your practice. No other course can provide this.
  • It will add substance to your CV/Resume.
  • This gives the course the highest credibility with employers and clients.

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Professional and Academic Accreditation including NQAI Alignment

It is important, for credibility, that professional courses are validated for academic quality by National University of Ireland, England,. which have been approved by the Irish NQAI as being aligned with Irish university awards.

Academic validation is provided by the Health Faculty of a British university. The Post Graduate Certificate, Diploma and MA in Practice Based Play Therapy courses are validated for academic quality by National University of Ireland, England.

Many employers look favourably upon the holders of university degrees and awards. Successful participants receive University awards. Each course completed provides 60 ‘M’ points.

Clinical accreditation – has been obtained by APAC through the International Board of Examiners of Certified Play Therapists (IBCEPT) based on the international standards of play therapy competencies and training course quality evaluation. The Diploma course held at Fern Hill in England has also been accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, the only play therapy course to have achieved this recognition. This ensures that the quality of the courses matches that of other counselling and psychotherapy courses.

Whereas non-accredited courses may give you some knowledge, they will not usually be recognised by employers or clients. Accreditation of a course ensures that your time and money is not wasted. Endorsement by independent organisations is one of the measures of the quality of the course.

It makes it easier to get work. Any potential employer should recognise the quality of your training as being endorsed by independent and respected professional bodies.

It should give you confidence in your training because you are assured that the clinical content of the course meets the highest standards of play therapy, counselling and psychotherapy practice.

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Better career progression opportunities

The programme will enable you to develop your career by building on your existing skills and experience and open up new opportunities. It is ideal for three groups of professionals who are already working with children:

  • Counsellors, psychotherapists, clinical psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals who wish to, or are already working with children. Therapeutic play and the use of creative arts therapies will extend your existing skills. You will be able to deal with issues in complementary ways and achieve significant results, as proven by practice based research.
  • Teaching staff in primary or nursery schools. You may add to your educational and cognitive skills to alleviate the emotional and behaviour difficulties of ‘problem pupils’. If you work in a school – you will be able to achieve better academic results and lower exclusion and unauthorised absence rates.
  • Social workers – add therapeutic skills to your social work skills for dealing with children and families. In social work you will be able to provide additional help for children who are in transition, awaiting adoption, have problems in foster care or have been abused.

The APAC Post Graduate Certificate in Therapeutic Play Skills and the Diploma in Play Therapy are designed to be the foundation for further career progression. They fit into the PTI Four Stage Training Model. By successfully completing these courses you may then progress if you wish to:

  • Become a Certified Play and Creative Arts Therapies Supervisor
  • Become a Certified Filial Play Coach/Mentor
  • Become an Accredited PTI Play Therapy Trainer
  • and/or take your MA in Practice Based Play Therapy – by dissertation

The training and support provides you with the medium term opportunity to become self employed as an independent practitioner. It widens your career options including portfolio working.

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Best quality management

No other play therapy training programme has such complete management of quality. Very few training providers, at large, take as much care in managing the quality of their courses as APAC. This is achieved in three main ways:

  1. Academic quality management by National University of Ireland including moderation by an independently appointed External Examiner
  2. APAC’s own four level Kirkpatrick based model of training evaluation measuring:* Reaction – particpants’ responses to the training * Learning – through the assessment of what has been learnt * Behaviour – what impact has the training had on changing the therapeutic work with the children? * Results – what results (in this case clinical) has the trainee achieved

It is the quality as well as the content that makes the PTI/APAC play therapy training programme the most effective and best value on offer.

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Greater personal and career support

Support of the course participants is provided in three ways: clinical supervision, the faculty and career development.

Supervision – once you start to work therapeutically with the children you will need clinical supervision, ideally from a Certified Play Therapy Supervisor. This is provided as a part of the course and will cover roughly one third of your needs and is included in the course fee.

Faculty – APAC’s is not only the largest single play therapy faculty in the world. It is the most experienced. Its 14 members have over 150 years of training experience between them. As well as their practitioner and specialist expertise a number are highly experienced Counsellors, Psychotherapists and Social workers. This provides in-depth knowledge of most of children’s emotional and behaviour conditions and also of a range of educational, health and social services settings.

You will benefit from an unequalled range and depth of knowledge a faculty that not only know their subjects – they know how to train.

The Programme Manager for Ireland is Prof. Monika Jephcott, Europe’s most experienced play therapy trainer, who originated and designed the courses. The courses are run, by experienced play therapy Course Directors and supported where appropriate, by specialist facilitators of art, career development, clay, ethics, masks, movement, music, puppets, research, sand and therapeutic storytelling.

With this size of faculty there is less risk of the course suffering from the incapacity of key members of the faculty. You will learn a variety of techniques from a number of different perspectives.

Professionalism and career support – as well as learning to become a safe and effective Play Therapist you will be provided with the knowledge to become a complete professional and the support to further your career. APAC considers that it has a moral obligation to help everyone who successfully completes the course to find the type of work that they want and to achieve realistic levels of earnings. We do not say ‘goodbye – you’re now on your own’ once you have finished a course.

Play therapy is an emerging profession in Ireland. We will help you to demonstrate the professionalism that is needed to secure the good quality services that the children deserve.

You will be able to build a personally satisfying and financially rewarding career with PTIrls help.

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More play therapy training experience

PTIrl is affiliated to PTI who set the world’s first play therapy training standards in 1986 and have led the way ever since with its Profession Structure Model based on a competency framework, recently updated in 2007.

APAC have been running accredited play therapy training courses in partnership with PTI since 2000. Over 40 Certificate and 25 Diploma courses have been delivered during this time providing a unique depth of experience.

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Minimises your risk of wasting time and money

Undertaking any form of advanced and specialised training involves the investment of time and money. The risk will vary from person to person but should be considered carefully by everyone before they commit to any training programme. PTUK and APAC have minimised the risk for most applicants:

Content – if you want to work therapeutically with children the course will certainly teach you what you need to know because it is based on the competencies required to be a successful practitioner

Learning methods – the essential method is experiential learning and this is the basis of the programme. You will learn to understand how the children feel and process their issues. You will be prepared for most events that are likely to occur in the playroom and to deal with them in a safe and effective way.

Research – we know from research based on hundreds of our students’ cases that what APAC teaches works. We can accurately predict the results that a year’s cohorts of our successful participants will achieve. No other course can do this.

Accreditation of any course that you undertake is important, especially with employers. The APAC courses are fully accredited by internationally respected professional and academic institutions at post graduate level.

Career progression – by successfully completing the Certificate and/or Diploma courses you will be building a platform for subsequent career enhancement. These are not courses that do not lead anywhere else.

Quality management – many courses just rely on participants’ questionnaires filled in at the end of the course (‘happy sheets’). APAC goes much further in measuring what has been learnt, how it has been applied in practice and the clinical results have been obtained. There is also the advantage of independent monitoring of quality by the University and the External Examiner. Very few training programmes in any subject undertake this degree of rigorous control of quality.

Support – unlike many training providers, we do not leave you to get on with it after you have completed the course. We provide a bridge between the course and employment. Through PTUK you have access to advice on marketing yourself in play therapy, producing effective CVs and interview advice.

You will be able to approach the training with more assurance that you will not be wasting your emotional investment, time and money.

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More items included in the cost

The course fees include:

  • Tuition and facilitated exercises using a wide range of equipment and materials
  • Coverage of a very comprehensive ‘Tool-Kit TM‘ of methods
  • Hundreds of pages of training material
  • A CD-ROM with all the specialist forms and PowerPoint presentation material you need to set up a play therapy service or independent practice
  • 4 clinical supervision sessions
  • Continuous assessment of all exercises, and if necessary personal coaching
  • Review, appraisal and marking of all written work
  • Administration and submission of all participants’ documentation to PTI and to the University (if you are registered)
  • A two course lunch (‘sit down’ and two refreshment breaks

Most of the major expense items are included in the fees. You will need to allow for books, 12 hours of supervision, professional organisation membership (Play Therapy Ireland and University (optional) registration fees and for your travel, B&B and evening meals.

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Flexible payment methods

Payments for most courses in the programme may be made module by module, in advance by post dated cheques for which there is a small extra administration charge This may make it easier on your budget – you can spread payments over the duration of the course.

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